Because of the high corn and soybean meal costs, pork producers may be willing to consider many different feed ingredients and experiment more with alternatives. A dependable supply source is among the primary considerations, according to Joel DeRouchey, swine Extension specialist, Kansas State University.

Regional availability for alternative feed ingredients varies widely throughout the industry, says De Rouchey. Also, supply contracts can take many forms. He recommends working closely with your feed supplier and nutritionist to discover which alternative ingredients may be economical in your area as well as any associated particular challenges.

Don’t forget other basic considerations such as additional bin space that may be required by a new alternative ingredient. Also, consider potential changes in manure nutrient content and consistency which may result from changing to alternative ingredient-containing diets. “We’ve had some reports that diets with higher fiber concentrations, such as those containing dried distillers’ grains with solubles can result in thicker manure which can be more difficult to pump from pits,” says DeRouchey.

Some ingredients gaining attention are meat and bone meal, bakery by-products and wheat middlings. “However, sudden increases in demand for a lower priced alternative ingredient may drive the price up reducing its economic benefit,” DeRouchey cautions.

Look for consistency in supply and formulate the diet on a digestible amino acid basis. “Accurate amino acid values must be available for both the actual nutrient content as well as the digestible level of amino acids,” says DeRouchey.

One alternative ingredient used is meat and bone meal which may be generally used as 5 percent of the diet. “We have seen decreased performance at higher levels,” cautions DeRouchey. However, he adds, if it can be purchased cheap enough, you can have lower performance and still come out ahead with higher inclusion rates.

Meat and bone meal is higher in protein but lower in lysine than soybean meal. It is also an excellent source of calcium and phosphorus. “As monocalcium has increased in price, meat and bone meal has become more economical and will likely continue to be,” says DeRouchey. On an ingredient basis, MBM is worth slightly more than soybean meal at this point. Quality variation however, can be a challenge, DeRouchey adds. Also, tryptophan may become limiting.

Synthetic amino acids are also an important consideration when balancing diets which include alternative ingredients. Lysine, methionine and threonine are the most commonly added amino acids when soybean meal is replaced in the diet.

Generally, 3 pounds of lysine HCl per ton can be used in nursery/grow-finish diets without supplementing with other synthetic amino acids. If we use more than three pounds of synthetic lysine HCl, however, methionine and threonine must also be used. However, with  10 percent DDGS, you can increase lysine HCl up to 5 pounds and replace more soybean meal which helps the economics of using DDGS.

For other alternatives, peas have been used successfully at up to 40 percent of the diet in those regions where they are easily available such as the northern tier states. Canola meal has also been used in the northern states. Soy bean hulls, for those near a soybean crush plant, can be used successfully in sow diets even though they are low in energy.

The National Pork Board offers full nutrient profiles for many commonly-used alternative ingredients: